Hard Drive Troubleshooting Tools – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 4.3

If you’re trying to recover a hard drive or some lost data, then you’ll need the right tools. In this video, you’ll learn about recovery software, the chkdsk command, diskpart options, and more.

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Since hard drives are usually mounted inside of a computer system and they’re usually screwed on very tightly to make sure they don’t move, then we’re going to need a screwdriver to be able to get those out of the system. Sometimes that’s a flat point, maybe we need a Phillips head or a cross point Or maybe we need a specialized torx screwdriver to get it out of our computer.

If we’ve removed a drive from inside of a computer but we’d still like a way to access that data, we might want to use an external disk enclosure. We can put our drive into this disk enclosure and we’re usually connecting it to our computer through an interface like a USB connection. That way we can move the drive to a computer that we know is working and hopefully we can recover or back up the data that’s on that hard drive.

Sometimes it’s not so easy just to get that data from the drive. Sometimes the drives not working properly and maybe the data was deleted, and we need to find some way to recover it. There’s specialized software you can use to access that drive and start recovering that data.

We can recover for instance, deleted files. Even if somebody deletes or removes information from their recycle bin, you can still recover the data that’s on that drive. If somebody loses files, maybe somebody’s accidentally formatted the drive or viruses have overridden certain information, you still may be able to recover details. And you can do that with some of this specialized software.

I’ve used video cameras before, that I’ve taken on holiday, I’ve recorded our entire vacation, I bring it back and I hit the wrong button and delete everything on that camera. Fortunately, I was able to use recovery software. I used Recuva to get back those videos very, very quickly. And if you have somebody who has pictures or videos on a USB drive, a flash drive, or a hard drive, you may be able to use that type of recovery software to undelete all of that information.

And even when you might have deleted entire volumes or there’s huge amounts of missing data, you want to be able to use some type of recovery software to get that back. And you can take advantage of this software to hunt through the drive, piece back together the entire volume and hopefully recover that data. One of the first checks you can do to both the file system and to the sectors on the drive, is run a check desk. From the command line it’s CHKDSK and if you use the /f, it will find any problems with the file system and it will correct those.

You can also have check disk look at all of the sectors on the disk. And if it finds something to try to recover, it will find that data and move it to a better part of the drive. If you do check disk /r, it goes through that very detailed sector by sector analysis.

If you’re already in Windows and you’re using that volume, you may find that you’re not able to perform a check disk while your system is running. So it may give you a message like this that says, it can’t run because the volume is in use. Would you like to schedule this volume to be run the next time you reboot and you can say, yes. And then once you restart your computer, before it starts the operating system, it will run through an entire disk check.

If you’ve installed a new drive in to your system, then it probably doesn’t have a file system on it already. So it doesn’t have a way to index and store data. To be able to initialize that drive with the file system, we would use the format command. The format command initializes a new drive. If you have a drive with existing data, it will remove all of the data from that drive. So you generally don’t run format on an existing production drive unless you’re looking to completely erase everything and start fresh from the beginning.

When you’re running the Windows setup, you may recall at the very beginning of that process, it asks you to partition information, and tell the system where you’d like to install the operating system. But if you’re at the command line or recovery prompt, you obviously don’t have that graphical front end. To be able to perform partition level commands, you’ll want to use the command disk part. If you’re accustomed to some very old versions of Windows, you may recover the f disk command. That f disk command has been replaced with DISKPART and DISKPART has a number of advanced features that will allow you to do partitioning of the NTFS file system.